Founder and owner, Portland Flea-for-All
Portland Flea-for-All, a three-level indoor flea market known for its affordable vintage and antique items, is the brainchild of Erin Kiley, a 31-year-old woman from Connecticut who moved to Portland with her fiance?e a few years ago to start her own business.
“This store is very different from a traditional flea market,” said Kiley. “It’s more curated than a (traditional) flea market. We do the first round of picking for you.”
Before opening Portland-Flea-for-All in April 2012 with her now husband, Nathaniel Baldwin, Kiley produced environmental documentaries for a nonprofit in Santa Monica, Calif. But two years ago, Kiley had a change of heart.
According to Kiley, she has been collecting antiques for years and has always enjoyed going to flea markets.
She said while starting Portland Flea-for-All has been “incredibly rewarding,” it’s also been the most challenging pursuit of her life thus far. According to Kiley, being a business owner is a “constant process of learning, growth, rejection, vulnerability, sleep deprivation, emotional and financial stress.”
“We wanted to do something that was community-oriented,” said Kiley, when asked about starting Portland Flea-for-All. “I felt like Portland was very progressive and emerging, but still had room to grow. We felt like we could fill a niche that wasn’t filled yet.”
Located in the heart of Portland’s Bayside neighborhood, Portland Flea-for-All prides itself on being a vintage, antique and artisan marketplace where anyone, regardless of their age or budget or style, can find an item to take home, from antique furniture to vintage clothing to other Maine-made products.
“It’s like a testing ground for a lot of other entrepreneurs because they can benefit from the low cost of shared space,” said Kiley. “It’s constantly growing and the response from the community has been undeniably positive.”
Though she enjoyed her career in California, Kiley said, she and Baldwin, from Massachusetts, wanted to go back to their New England roots and be closer to family and friends.
Opening a business was also at the top of the list, Kiley said, though she never anticipated having to wear so many hats as a business owner.
“Since starting the Flea-for-All, I’ve learned to be an antiques dealer, event promoter, graphic designer, woodworker, upholsterer, accountant, contract negotiator, and general manager of people and things,” she said.
But she’s glad to see her efforts pay off, she said, as Portland Flea-For-All continues to be recognized. This year, the business won Downeast Magazine’s Editors’ Choice for best flea market in Maine, and it has also been named the best vintage/antique store two years in a row, and best furniture store, said Kiley.
Kiley said she owes much of her success to the fact she decided to locate her business in a “vibrant, young entrepreneurial community.”
“Everywhere we go we’re surrounded by smart, creative people doing innovative things. It’s taught me that if you create a nice place full of good things, people will follow,” she said.
“I think that energy and authenticity are what make Maine unique,” she said. “People don’t come here for national chains and big-box stores. They come for the local businesses that embody the character of Maine’s leaders.”